Morning prayer began with Psalm 35 (36 depending on your translation):
"O God, in your light we shall see true light.
Evil whispers to the sinner in the depths of his heart:
the fear of God does not stand before his eyes.
Evil’s flattering light disguises his wickedness,
so that he does not hate it."
Evil's flattering light disguises his wickedness.
As Christians, how often do we see ourselves against the backdrop of the world, thinking our souls are in far better shape than they really are?
Speaking of flattery...
Over the years, I've been acquainted with countless "friends" who use flattery as a means to gain something--a sense of belonging, career advancement, social acceptance, or a boost to the self-image (as compared with the world, of course). I still have a few of these kinds of people in my life, and boy do they lay it on thick. I feel sorry for them, because they truly don't understand giving of the self. Every favor has a condition. Every promise is forgotten. Every gift is nominal and often accompanied by saccharin. Their friendships don't last through the years, and wonder why they never seem to get anywhere in life.
Sign after sign is erected before them, and they deliberately shut their eyes, telling themselves that it's never them, never their inability to see themselves in the light of God. They prefer the flattering light of evil, because then they don't have to change.
Of course I would be guilty of lying if I said that I never did anything like this in my life. Sure, I've done things to ingratiate myself to others, especially when I looked at myself against that backdrop of the world, where nothing I do is nearly as bad as what others do. I even have told my friends to not beat themselves up over things, because what they've done isn't nearly as bad as what others have done, and to not worry about it.
The more I try to understand myself, though, and the true nature of sin as it works within me, I realize that this is a terrible attitude, and is just as bad as that overt flattery I described. Lately I'm realizing that when my friends say to me, "compared to others...", I know they're trying to make me feel better, but it's not the response I need from them. Others aren't going to be judging me the day I die. God will, and He doesn't measure according to what others do. If I stop examining my conscience objectively against GOD's rule, I might easily turn into one of those poor souls blinded by evil's flattering light.
What we all need during these times is not flattery, but prayer:
"Let us not be crushed under the heels of the proud,
nor dispossessed by the hands of sinners.
The doers of evil have fallen where they stood,
they are cast down and cannot rise. "